Networking has become so popular that almost all offices and organizations have their own networks to send data and share resources. Threats to the network can compromise the safety of the network. Sensitive data or other important data can be affected and in some cases, even the hardware involved in the network can be compromised.
Hacking usually involves gaining access to unauthorized data that is stored in a system or network. Hacking exploits all the potential weaknesses in a system to access the information. Hacking is one of the most common threats to network security and since the sudden boom in the computer science and engineering field, anyone who can write coding can become a hacker. A genius programmer who is fired or dissatisfied with the organization can easily hack the network, resulting in damage to the organization.
This is where network security comes into place. With the increasing weaknesses and loopholes in a network, the importance of strengthening the network’s security is becoming predominant. Networks can be secured by employing strong firewalls, which filter out the unauthorized requests from entering the network. Firewall can also be combined with virus protection software to guard the network against virus attacks. Other ways of network security include encryption of data, limiting remote access, scanning the network periodically to check for intruders, etc.
Let’s look at some of the tools that ensure network security.
Firewalls protect the network from external threats by blocking the unauthorized networks when they try to enter the network. The packets containing viruses or packets that do not conform to the Internet protocols are identified and denied access. They act as a wall between the insecure outside world and the internal network.
Even the average computer user knows that Anti-virus software is essential to protect the computer from hackers. They are one of the oldest technologies which are still fighting against the threats to the security of the computers. Some of the new Anti-Virus tools are reputation-based and heuristic-based.
Heuristic-based anti-virus tools look for unusual patterns in certain types of files while reputation-based anti-virus look at the attachments or extensions and decide whether they contain malicious code. Extending this idea to another level, it can also accept suspicious packets to analyze how they are structured and the information can be used to characterize spam and virus-containing files.
Honeypots are essentially traps or baits. They are deception traps that appear to contain useful information that the attacker needs. This is usually kept isolated and continuously monitored for attackers. The valuable or information is however kept blocked from the attacker. It is a surveillance tool that provides security to the network information. A fun fact is that the name “honeypots” comes from a metaphor of bears getting attracted by honey and attempting to steal it.
Anomaly-based IDS systems detect the intrusions in a network by carefully monitoring the behavior of the network. If an activity does not appear normal, the behavior is suspected to be anomalous. This suspicious activity could then be monitored closely and can be used to detect threats from attackers. The classification of normal and abnormal behavior is based on heuristics and signatures. The system must already know what the normal system activities are. A disadvantage is that it can sometimes generate false-positives.
Anti-malware, DDOS mitigation and other tools are also used to protect against network security. A recent addition to the list of threats is botnet infection. Zombies, which are attacker-controlled systems, are present as part of the network and steal intellectual properties.
As new threats emerge, new technologies are being developed by firms like BlueCat to protect the network from those threats. Network security is a never-ending journey which fights attackers when they face them.